Some Chicago Boyz know each other from student days at the University of Chicago. Others are Chicago boys in spirit. The blog name is also intended as a good-humored gesture of admiration for distinguished Chicago School economists and fellow travelers.
Political analysts were likely no less surprised. I’m certainly one of them, having looked on in amazement ever since the reemergence of Hamas violence in early 2018 after three and a half years of quiet. Why did the Israeli government, with Benjamin Netanyahu firmly at its helm, tolerate renewed Hamas missile strikes, then missiles and incendiary balloons, then missiles and incendiary balloons and rioting along the fence dividing Hamas- controlled Gaza and Israel?
This is to say nothing of the high-profile visits of the Qatari special envoy, who brought suitcases full of millions of dollar bills to be placed in Hamas coffers—either directly or indirectly with Israel’s permission.
[. . .]
The mystery was solved on the fourth night of the offensive, when the Israeli Air Force made aviation history by amassing, over the small space of Gaza, 160 fighter jets and other air vehicles to pound and destroy—over a mere 40 minutes—the “Hamas Metro”: a vast array of interlocking tunnels Hamas had dug to protect its command posts, ease the movement of its terrorists, and enable the transport of its missiles and other ordnance.
What Netanyahu and the IDF did unto Hezbollah on a much smaller scale two years ago they repeated successfully on a far larger scale against Hamas. Israel, having discovered and then meticulously monitored Hezbollah tunneling activities across the northern border, waited for the expensive tunnels to be dug and then destroyed them just as they were about to be completed. It was Hamas’s turn to be similarly duped.
[The two retired Israeli generals] were avid students of military history, including of the Vietnam conflict. They applied for visas and made a special request to the Vietnamese authorities: to meet General Vo Nguyen Giap.
Unexpectedly, the request was approved. Giap agreed to meet them. When the Israelis arrived in Vietnam, they sat down with the man who by then had spent decades as his country’s defense minister. It was a long meeting, as [Gen.] Ben Hanan would later recall to Eran Lerman, a former top-ranked IDF intelligence officer and later deputy national security adviser. Lerman, now at the Jerusalem Institute for Strategy and Security, told the story to this writer.
Well, it appears that the mullahcracy in Iran is still steamed over the death of their military mastermind Quassam Soleimani, the chief of so-called Quds Force – sort of the Iranian SS, I have always thought. On the one-year anniversary of that momentous drone-zap (a consummation quite overdue in my opinion) the president of Iran directly threatened the life of President Trump. Talk is cheap, and Iranian threats of dire revenge are the equivalent of those teeny and nearly worthless Spanish 1-peseta coins, which were struck from aluminum in the early 1990s, about the size of a child’s fingernail and looked like nothing so much as doll money. But still … the militant Muslims of Iran are certainly dedicated and determined sufficiently to have racked up any number of lesser-known and less-protected hits, so I wouldn’t be surprised at all if this was something more than just tough talk for the benefit of their domestic audience and fans of Islamic mayhem in other countries.
Today, 9/11/2020, is the nineteenth anniversary of Al-Qaeda’s terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center’s twin towers in New York City and the Pentagon in Washington, D.C. Often forgotten or glossed over as time goes on were the actions of the passengers of Flight 93, whose resistance to Al-Qaeda’s suicide-hijacker team brought the plane down in Shanksville, PA rather than Al-Qaeda’s chosen target, saving the lives of other Americans at the price of their own.
Yet for all that, I have not seen anything matching what a friend of mine, Tom Holsinger, wrote about 9/11/2001 and the people on Flight 93 — our fellow citizens who rose up and fought Al Qaeda, when all others, our military, our political leaders, our law enforcement, were frozen in surprise — at the strategypage.com web site in October 2002. I have not read any written commemoration of their act, before or since, as moving as this passage:
Students of American character should pay close attention to Flight 93. A random sample of American adults was subjected to the highest possible stress and organized themselves in a terribly brief period, without benefit of training or group tradition other than their inherent national consciousness, to foil a well planned and executed terrorist attack. Recordings show the passengers and cabin crew of Flight 93 – ordinary Americans all – exemplified the virtues Americans hold most dear.
Certain death came for them by surprise but they did not panic and instead immediately organized, fought and robbed terror of its victory. They died but were not defeated.
Ordinary Americans confronted by enemies behaved exactly like the citizen-soldiers eulogized in Victor Davis Hanson’s Carnage and Culture.
Herman Wouk called the heroic sacrifice of the USS Enterprise’s Torpedo 8 squadron at the Battle of Midway “… the soul of America in action.” Flight 93 was the soul of America, and the American people know it. They spontaneously created a shrine at the crash site to express what is in their hearts and minds but not their mouths. They are waiting for a poet. Normally a President fills this role.
But Americans feel it now. They don’t need a government or leader for that, and didn’t to guide their actions on Flight 93, because they really are America. Go to the crash shrine and talk to people there. Something significant resonates through them which is different from, and possibly greater than, the shock of suffering a Pearl Harbor attack at home.
Pearl Harbor remains a useful analogy given Admiral Isokoru Yamamoto’s statement on December 7, 1941 – “I fear we have woken a sleeping giant and filled him with a terrible resolve.” They were giants on Flight 93.
Sometimes, long after first reading a book or watching a movie and enjoying it very much, I have come back to re-reading or watching, and then wondering what I had ever seen in that in the first place. So it was with the original M*A*S*H book and especially with the movie. I originally read the book in college and thought, “Eww, funny but gross and obscene, with their awful practical jokes and nonexistent sexual morals.” Then I re-read after having been in the military myself for a couple of years, and thought, “Yep, my people!”
The movie went through pretty much the same evolution with me, all but one element – and that was when I began honestly wondering why the ostensible heroes had such a hate on for Major Burns and the nurse Major Houlihan. Why did those two deserve such awful, disrespectful treatment? In the movie they seemed competent and agreeable enough initially. In the book it was clear that Major Burns was an incompetent surgeon with delusions of adequacy, and that Major Houlihan was Regular Army; that being the sole reason for the animus. But upon second viewing of the movie, it seemed like Duke Forrest, Hawkeye Pierce and Trapper John McIntyre were just bullying assholes selecting a random target for abuse for the amusement of the audience.